Plaka: The neighborhood of the Gods

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By Luci Lizares

Saturday, March 22, 2014

AFTER our visit to Acropolis in Athens, my cousins opted to go to the National Archeological Museum which is the largest museum in Greece—8,000 square meters, and one of the world's great museums. Its abundant collections, with more than 20,000 exhibits, provide a panorama of Greek civilization from the beginnings of Prehistory to Late Antiquity.

Instead of the Museum, Germaine Bierotte and I went to Plaka. I wanted to see something other than Ancient Greece and Plaka was my choice. Plaka came to be as a settlement for the construction workers of the many Athenian buildings from the Anafi Cycladic Island. They built their houses on the steep slopes of the Acropolis in the traditional island style with immaculate white houses and narrow paths between them. Plaka became known as the “Neighborhood of the Gods” because of its close proximity to Acropolis.

Plaka is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Athens and was once the working class district. It was a favored shooting location from the ‘50s to the ‘60s. In the ‘70s it became a habitat for bar flies, and nightclubs mushroomed everywhere. However, when the government ruled against loud, disturbing music, the bars closed down. How I wish that ordinances to noise pollution will also be enforced here Bacolod City.
The place has become quite touristy but has maintained its idyllic atmosphere. The government observes strict zoning and conservation regulations in the area and it is the only neighborhood in Athens where all utilities such as water, power, cable television, telephone, internet, and sewage lie underground. Hopefully, one day Bacolod can also reach this level of zoning and regulations. There are no rows of spaghetti wires lining the streets. When I walk or drive down our streets here, I always wonder if the different companies know which one is theirs.


I loved walking in the small winding roads of Plaka. It is a charming, refreshing town with its restaurants, art, jewelry and antique shops, and boutiques hotels. You see flowering bougainvilleas and jasmines everywhere. Wouldn’t it be great to have a pedestrian street like this lined with restaurants and shops? Every time I see places like these, I always think of the possible opportunities that can be doable back home to boost the tourism industry as well as for local folks.

Germaine and I were hungry and we wanted a simple Greek lunch. However, we had a great one with olives for starters, which I noticed, seems to be served even without your asking for them. It was followed by a sumptuous island salad topped with mozzarella cheese followed by a Greek beef dish. The owners, finding out I was a travel writer, gave us some “raki,” their local spirit. Those are the perks one enjoys for being a lifestyle and travel writer.

After lunch, Germaine decided to join her Mom, who together with my aunt, were doing their priority: shopping. We agreed to meet at 4 p.m. in the designated area pointed out by our guide. I wanted to invade the gallery stores but spent more time in this quaint antique shop owned by Anastasio, who became an instant friend. As I was looking around, he got a call and told me it was his girl friend. He was very verbose and talked animatedly about her. She is Scorpio while he is a Cancer, he says, and Cancers are fools when it comes to love. He gives her everything. OUCH!!! I am a Cancer, too!

It was tough deciding what to buy as Anastasio’s shop was filled from floor to ceiling with antiquities and jewelries. Having a penchant for crosses, I was torn between three choices. I asked Anastasio to help me choose. Instead, he left me alone in his shop saying he wanted me to decide from my heart—with some theatrics with his hand pressed against his left chest. Truly a Cancer and what a trusting man! I finally settled for a gold cross and he gave me this beautiful Grecian bottle as a gift. Thank you, Lord!!!

Waiting for Germaine, I entered a tiny church dedicated to St. George. It is said that the marble used for the construction of the church was taken from an ancient temple. There were major repairs ongoing but that did not deter me from expressing my gratitude and praise for visiting this pretty town and meeting such a wonderful, sweet man.

Not too worried about Germaine, who turned out to have joined her Mom and Tita Cami on the ride back to the ship, I joined our tour group, left Plaka with a last look at the Acropolis. Until the next time!

A dream come true
Mimi Olorga
Points of view

SHE wanted to become a teacher. Hard work, prayer and perseverance helped her to reach her goal. After a short stint in helping mold the young minds of secondary students, Gleah Pasigan-Demachi went to Japan and became a member of the Board of Education.

For 17 years that Gleah taught there, she nurtured one dream: to be able to have a pre- school of her own.

In 2008, Gleah started studying more intensely the Montessori Method. Being so inspired with the Montessori belief that “within the child lies the fate of the future,” Gleah, with the help of her family, started converting their ancestral house into a “place where every child can explore.”

With the help of her sister Arlene, Great Pillars Academy (GPA) came into being. It is located at #2030 Uno de Mayo St., Capitol Heights, Bacolod City.

With its fully air-conditioned classrooms for 2 to 5 year-olds and a DepED permit, Great Pillars Academy will start operation this coming June.

With practical life, sensorial area, cultural science, language curriculum, art and many floor and table interactive activities, the kids will surely have an everyday adventure at Great Pillars Academy.
The young teachers, Michelle, Janice and Karen, are inspiring facilitators to different wonderful worlds of possibilities. With the adept administrative skills of Dr. Ruby Sumagaysay and Mrs. Arlene Vergara, Great Pillars Academy hopes to make every child imagine, play and learn.

Thus, last March 15, the blessing of the school was a momentous event for Gleah, the president of Great Pillars Academy, and the rest of the staff.

With the wonderful gifts of presence of Mayor Monico Puentevella, Rev. Fr. Alfonso Arrojo, executive assistant Madeleine Diaz, Barangay Villamonte captain Friday Solinap, DepEd program supervisor Aldrin Vingno, the Bacolod Evangelical Church (BEC) Orchestra, friends, relatives and guests, the event was a great success.

Noteworthy was the singing of the GPA hymn which was arranged by Alexander Endrina and accompanied by the members of the BEC orchestra.

Symbolic, too, was the lighting of candles of love, hope, prosperity and peace made by the GPA administration, teachers, parents, and kids.

For the kids to have a purposeful life, positive disposition, make choices, develop a sense of responsibility and have character, wisdom and beauty—these are the objectives of the cozy pre-school of Great Pillars Academy.

These goals are interwoven with the dream of a wonderful person who have become a good teacher—Gleah Pasigan- Demachi. Her dreams had just come true.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 22, 2014.


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